Anatomy of Desire engages with the performance of sexuality, identity and desire, but also focuses on a notion central to photography and lens-based mediums in general: the gaze and other related questions such as seeing and being seen, revealing and concealing, voyeurism and the tension between private and public. Laval started this project in 2008 after a personal event triggered a long period of insomnia, during which she explored and took part in New York City’s gay nightlife, including illicit sex parties, as a way to face her own dark side and find catharsis. Sometimes accompanying her gay friends, sometimes wandering on her own, she photographed exclusively with her Blackberry’s camera — the first generation of cell-phone cameras, several years before the advent of Instagram and the proliferation of iPhone photography generally. The spectacular and almost theatrical aspect of the scenes she witnessed fascinated her, as did the tension between the observer and the observed/exposed, and the shifting nature of these roles. She was also intrigued by the way the extremely low resolution of her camera created texture and gave the bodies a sculptural quality while at the same time blurring the contour of the human figure and reinforcing its dissipation. Here, the dematerialized surface of the images seems to mirror the fleeting aspect of the close and brief encounters I photographed. Additionally, Laval explores the parallel between the mechanisms of desire and photography in the longing to retain a momentary experience that is already gone once captured by the camera.
Anatomy of Desire is presented as a site-specific installation where Laval transforms the space into fragments incorporating images from the project. The resulting effect is reminiscent of an augmented 3-D pixelated image where the viewer finds herself immersed into the fragmented landscape of the artist’s memory.